The Department of Music hired a new jazz director, Mike Rogers, to direct the jazz programs and instruct music theory courses permanently this year.
Rogers, a graduate student from the University of North Texas, was previously hired as one of the many jazz substitutes since Derek Brown, former Jazz Director, left ACU to pursue a performing career in Chicago.
Abigail Kellogg, a senior music major from Decatur, said she enjoyed having Dr. Rogers as a director even after the previous directors came and went.
After Brown left the jazz program unexpectedly, the program was left without a solid leader, mission or focus for the past two years.
“After Dr. Brown left, we had several conductors come and go,” said Kellogg. “Dr. Willoz looked for our next director, but after he passed away, we were again left without anyone to lead us.”
Since the addition of Rogers to the Department of Music, Kellogg said the program is slowly starting to pick back up and get “back on track.”
“I really appreciate how focused, kind, energetic and intense he is for our band,” said Kellogg.”I wish he was here the past two years, so I could have trained under him more.”
Emily Berry, administrative coordinator for the Department of Music, said Jazz is an essential part for each music major to understand since majors would also be conducting both Jazz and band ensembles.
“Jazz is a really important component of instrumental music and it is a really specific and diverse style of music,” said Berry. “Especially for our music majors, as they get into high school programs, they would be expected to conduct Jazz bands and it’s something essential for them to know.”
When initially hiring Rogers, the department searched for someone who could not only direct the Jazz band but who could also instruct the music theory course. Coincidently, Rogers was one of the first candidates with background knowledge in leading successful ensembles and a degree in music theory.
“He was actually some perfect because he met both components,” said Berry.
Rogers directed the music for Sing Song this year as well as all other Jazz performances for the year.
“I think he is just what the ACU Jazz band needs,” said Kellogg. “He’s so focused and goofy and constantly pushes us to be better.”